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Sigma 50mm F1.4 EX DG HSM

sigma50-14jpg
Review Date: Feb 13, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $449.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Bokeh, sharpness. contrast, low light performance, AF, build, warranty!
Cons:
some CA wider open, price

I loved this lens the minute I pulled it out of the box. It is sharp, the bokeh is creamy, and it performs well under low light. I upgraded to this from the Canon 50mm f/1.8 II, and I'll admit there's leaps and bounds in difference. I haven't had any issues with it at all, though I wish there was less CA. However, my Canon 50 was a lot worse, so I'm fine with it. This locks right on target, even in the dark. I am just shocked with its brilliance. I considered getting the Canon 50mm f/1.4, but after trying it...this blows Canon's 50s out of the water. I'll wager it gives the 50 L a run for it's money. This came brand new with a 4 year warranty from Sigma, case, and hood. I think it's a better deal overall.

I was a little appalled at the price compared to other 50s. But for me, it was worth every penny.


 
Canon EOS 40D

40d
Review Date: Nov 3, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $869.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Weight, grip, sealing, balance, size, FPS (*drool*), noise control, image quality, price!
Cons:
Menus, arrangement of some settings. Liveview's battery consumption.

I bought this camera two months ago, and I'm still in love. I bought it the day the 50D came out, because I didn't see much upgrade difference. The build is amazing, and I still can't get over the rubber covered body. It really makes it easier to hold, and better to work with. The FPS is really amazing, it's lovely to listen to and really helps get the shot. The AF is quick and snaps to easily, I rarely miss a shot with it. It almost seems to sense what I'm looking for! I love the color/image quality I get out of this camera. I see a big difference in between this and the XT I upgraded from. Infrared photography has a whole new ballgame with this camera. I love the balance it has with L lenses, it makes the whole arrangement less burdensome. With the BG-E2 battery grip, this thing is a rock! The only thing that bothers me on occasion are some of the settings. I had some problems figuring out why exposure compensation was off, and also why I couldn't go under ISO 200. Overall, this was a great buy. The price is phenomenal, especially now with the 50D out. Snag one!

 
Canon EOS Rebel XT (350D)

rebel_xt
Review Date: Aug 28, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $500.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Size (for smaller hands), price, great for beginner, decent fps, 1.6x crop, noise processing
Cons:
Balance (especially with Ls), LED light doesn't stay on long enough, Kit lens is awful, AF assist beam placement (dumb!), image quality at times

This was my first DSLR and I've used it for several years. However, I've started reaching the boundaries of its uses, so I'm upgrading to a 40D. This is an awesome camera, despite its drawbacks. It is great for beginners, especially ones just getting into the Canon system.

A few samples of images taken with this camera:
http://flickr.com/photos/jkula/2748917350/
http://flickr.com/photos/jkula/2637477731/
http://flickr.com/photos/jkula/2576462500/


 
Canon Speedlite 580EX II

580exii
Review Date: Jun 11, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $370.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Build, swivel range, built-in features, exposure performance
Cons:
Adds more weight to heavy SLR set-up

This flash is very solid and built well, I refer to it as my "brick". It is everything I expected and more. The exposures are nice and even, and makes me like flash photography. I came from using the built in flashes on Canon dslrs, which I would rip off the cameras if I could. When mounted with big lenses like the "L" line, it can make any camera very intimidating. When I tried mounting on a Rebel, it looked fairly absurd. BUT this is not about appearance, just performance. I couldn't ask more out of a flash. The price is a little deterring, I waited until Canon held rebates to buy mine. It was about $40-50 off, and I wouldn't have bought this new otherwise.

 
Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III USM

ef75_300usm_1_
Review Date: May 22, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $125.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Size (for a telephoto), price, filter size, range
Cons:
Build feels cheap, some chromatic aberration, bit soft, picky AF

I bought the non USM version of this lens, and I do not regret it. This was my first lens (besides the kit), and it completed my range nicely. I bought it refurbished on eBay, and it has withstood a lot of abuse. A lot of my portfolio was shot with this lens. For its price, it has surpassed my expectations in quality and ability. Despite the f/4-5.6 maximum aperture, it has managed all sorts of shots, even in dark indoor rooms (with no flash!). I loved having a range to 300mm, it gave me a lot of freedom with shooting. I used it a lot for shooting elusive subjects, like animals.

For a beginner, this is a great lens to have. It's relatively inexpensive and completes a beginning photographer's set nicely. Since many new dslr buyers have the kit lens, it can cut down on filter costs with its identical 58mm sized thread. It can be a little soft, but it's not really a problem, especially with enough light. Its AF can hunt noticeably with certain subjects, but that's more of a shooter issue. I began upgrading my equipment recently, and this was the last piece to be replaced. I really like this lens a lot. I decided it was time to buy another high end lens, and my Canon 80-200 f/2.8 L took its place. I gave this lens away to a friend, so she can learn from it like I did. It definitely paid for itself!

A few examples of shots I took with this lens:
http://iaiarose.deviantart.com/art/Travis-Willingham-86113365
http://iaiarose.deviantart.com/art/Chester-56918239
http://iaiarose.deviantart.com/art/Am-I-fat-yet-66798711


 
Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II

ef50mmf_18_1_
Review Date: May 21, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $75.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Aperture range for the price, sharpness, inexpensive
Cons:
Build, slow AF in low light, noisy, MF can be inaccurate

I would recommend this lens for all beginners, even with some of its issues. With equipment you get what you pay for, though this lens goes way beyond its price. It is amazingly cheap for the wide aperture and picture quality. However, Canon compensated for the price by cheaping on the build. It is plasticky, noisy (sounds like a cement grinder!), and the AF has a couple issues. It hunts too much in low light. However, its lightness can be beneficial. It complements smaller bodies like the Rebels and it takes up little space in a camera bag. Personally, I think these lenses should be part of a beginner's kit. It will please with the price and aperture range. It is relatively good for close-ups too, if you're into shooting flowers or small objects (not macro, but nice). On stopped down shots, the bokeh has disappointed me from time to time.

These are a few shots I have taken with the "nifty fifty":
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v299/northtrot87/Shots/50primeexample-wtp.jpg
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v299/northtrot87/Shots/50primeexample-wtp2.jpg
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v299/northtrot87/Shots/50primeexample-wtp3.jpg


 
Canon EF 17-35mm f/2.8L USM

ef17_35_1_
Review Date: May 21, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Cost (for an L!), build, quality, speed, minimal barrel distortion at 17mm
Cons:
Weight (to be expected from an L), a little soft wide open

I became sick and tired of dealing with my dslr kit lens, so I decided to upgrade. It was a choice between the Canon 17-40 f/4 and this lens. I really wanted to avoid upgrading to only f/4, even with the quality of an L. I found a used copy on eBay at a very attractive price. I only paid $525 USD for it, a fraction of the 16-35 f/2.8 II 's cost, without trading much quality. I have the speed and sharpness of a wide angle f/2.8 L, without giving an arm and a leg. This lens was much bigger than I expected (it was my first L), especially with the hood on. However, it has turned into my main workhorse lens, since I use it on a dslr with 1.6x crop factor. It seems a little soft at f/2.8, but is nice and sharp when stopped down to around f/4. It captures shots wonderfully, with the quality and clarity expected of the L line.